Bend Endurance Academy leader wants all kids to be able to enjoy outdoor sports

(Update: Adding video, comments from Rougeux, another coach, young participant)

‘I like how it makes you feel — you feel free’

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Climbing Smith Rock, skiing at Mt. Bachelor and biking down the Crooked River Canyon are all activities that make Central Oregon unique.

Mike Rougeux, named last summer as the new executive director of Bend Endurance Academy, wants sports like these to be available to everyone.

“Kids that maybe, they don’t have a passion. They’ve tried sports and I kind of like it but that’s not really my thing, Rougeux said Wednesday.

“And it’s just like they get bit by the bug, and it becomes their thing, and they put a lot of energy and time and effort into it.”

Rougeux acknowledged that team sports are more common, but he wants kids to have the opportunity to climb, ski or bike with the same sense of organization and leadership as other sports.

A representative from Bend Endurance Academy says national costs for outdoor sports like Nordic skiing, climbing and cycling can range from $7,500 to $10,000.

The Bend Endurance Academy is a nonprofit funded from donations and fundraisers. 

Rougeux says they try to offers programs with more competitive pricing.
Their program prices are based on age and skill level, but Rougeux says he wants to provide more scholarship opportunities to families that need it.

He also wants to improve the development between the athletes and coaches, such as Nordic ski coach Natasha West.

West said, “I feel a lot tighter with the community.”

She said she is grateful that kids of any financial background can find a new passion.

“I feel like I’ve helped a lot of kids find the sport that they’re going to stick with for a long time,” West said.

Shae McCarl, a 12-year-old in the program, said she enjoys playing soccer and other team sports, but there’s something different for her about climbing.

“I like how it makes you feel — you feel free,” McCarl said.

“I think it’s like a lifetime sport. Even if you’re not serious about it, you can always keep going and have fun.”

Here’s Tuesday’s news release from the organization:

As of August 2020, Mike Rougeux of Bend, Oregon has been named Executive Director of the Bend Endurance Academy (BEA) by the organization’s governing board.

“Mike has created a culture within our climbing team that sets a precedent on community over competition, determination over talent, and passion over performance. I look forward to seeing him apply these principles to the entirety of the Bend Endurance Academy”, says Brady Kendrick, Assistant Climbing Director and Climbing Coach.

Lisa Capicchioni, BEA Bookkeeper and parent of a nationally ranked BEA climber added that, “Mike’s outstanding professionalism, honesty, kindness, and ability to make true connections with the athletes he coaches will translate to leveraging positive community relationships, growth, and expansion for BEA”.

Rougeux’s passion for outdoor recreation and captivating presence in the Bend community will provide BEA with increased opportunities for young adults and children to develop in sports that immerse their life. His goals as new Executive Director include increasing scholarship and tuition assistance programs so youth are not limited by financial means. Rougeux shared, “Throughout my 8 years working at BEA, I can see the special role BEA plays in the community by creating more engagement through young adults and children being involved.”

He also emphasized that “BEA is not just a parent partner, we emphasize child development by offering kids a unique set of skills they can use throughout their life.”

Lastly, Rougeux wants to improve coaches’ development so they can nurture the pathways for young athletes to reach where they want to be.

Rougeux graduated from Johnson State College where he earned a BA in Adventure Education and Wilderness Leadership, and an AAS Degree in Park and Recreation Management from SUNY Delhi. Additionally, Rougeux has worked with youth in this setting for over 25 years where he coached multiple youth climbers as members of the US National Climbing Team and served as a Regional Coordinator for USA Climbing.

For more information about the Bend Endurance Academy or the selection of Mike Rougeux as Executive Director, please contact Ellen Grover at 541-410-3231 or via email at [email protected]. To contact Mr. Rougeux directly, email [email protected]

About Bend Endurance Academy: The Bend Endurance Academy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Central Oregon with a mission to promote healthy living through active, outdoor experiences. We emphasize teamwork, inclusion, personal growth, and community responsibility.  

Founded in 2009, the Bend Endurance Academy currently features development programs for youth and juniors in Rock Climbing, Cycling, and Nordic Skiing. In 2019, more than 900 people participated in our programs and participants ranged in age from 4-74 years of age.

The Academy operates in the Deschutes National Forest under a Special Use Permit from the US Forest Service and in partnership with the Bend Rock Gym, Meissner Nordic and many local businesses.

For more information, please visit

Mission: The Bend Endurance Academy promotes healthy living through active, outdoor experiences. All programs offered emphasize teamwork, inclusion, personal growth, and community responsibility.

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